Search   
 
 
 
The fish are swum by, and the Serpents are creeping on, terrible creatures, carrying stings in their tails. That will smart worse than a Satyrs whip, though it were as big as Mr. Shepperds the mad Gentleman at Milton-Mow- brayes Constantinus Lascuius.

The chief or Captain of these is the Rattle-snake described already in my Journal, in some places of the Countrey there are none as at Plimouth, New-town., Nahant and some other places, they will live on one side of the River, and but swimming over and coming into the woods dye immediately.

The fat of a Rattle-snake is very Soveraign for frozen limbs, bruises, lameness by falls. Aches, Sprains. The heart of a Rattle-snake dried and pulverized and drunk with wine or beer is an approved remedy against the biting and venome of a Rattle-snake. Some body will give me thanks for discovering these secrets and the rest ; Nan omnibus omnia conveniant.

The Snake of which there are infinite numbers of various colours, some black, others painted with red, yellow and white, some again of a grass-green colour powdered all over as it were with silver dust or Muscovie-glass. But there is one sort that exceeds all the rest, and that is the Checkquered snake, having as many colours within the checkquers shaddowing one another, as there are in a Rainbow. There are two sorts of snakes, the land-snake and the water-snake; the water-snake will be as big about the belly as the Calf of a mans leg; I never heard of any mischief that snakes did, they kill, them sometimes for their skins and bones to make hatbands off, their skins likewise worn as a Garter is an excellent remedie against the cramp. I have found of the skins that they cast in woods in some quantity, they cast not their very skins, but only the superfluous thin skin that is upon the very skin, for the very skin is basted to the flesh, so Lobsters and Crabs.

The Earth-worm, these are very rare and as small as a horse hair, but there is a Bug that lyes in the earth and eateth the feed, that is somewhat like a Maggot of a white colour with a red head, and is about the bigness of ones finger and an inch or an inch and half long. There is also a dark dunnish Worm or Bug of the bigness of an Oaten-straw, and an inch long, that in the spring lye at the Root of Corn and Garden plants all day, and in the night creep out and devour them; these in some years destroy abundance of Indian Corn and Garden plants, and they have but one way to be rid of them, which the English have learnt of the Indians; And because it is somewhat strange, I shall tell you how it is, they go out into a field or garden with a Birchen-dish, and spudling the earth about the roots, for they lye not deep, they gather their dish full which may contain about a quart or three pints, then they carrie the dish to the Sea-side when it is ebbing-water and set it a swimming, the water carrieth the dish into the Sea and within a day or two if you go into your field you may look your eyes out sooner than find any of them.

Sow-bugs or Millipedes there be good store, but none of that sort that are blew and turn round as a pea when they are touched; neither are there any Beetles nor Maple-bugs, but a stinking black and red Bug called a Cacarooch or Cockroach, and a little black Bug like a Ladycow that breeds in skins and furrs and will eat them to their utter spoil. Likewise there be infinite numbers of Tikes hanging upon the bushes in summer time that will cleave to a mans garments and creep into his Breeches eating themselves in a short time into the very flesh of a man. I have seen the stockins of those that have gone through the woods covered with them. Besides these there is a Bug, but whether it be a Native to the Countrie or a stranger I cannot say; Some are of opinion that they are brought in by the Merchant with Spanish goods, they infest our beds most, all day they hide themselves, but when night comes they will creep to the steeping wretch and bite him worse than a flea, which raiseth a swelling knub that will itch intolerably, if you scratch it waxeth bigger and growes to a scab; and if you chance to break one of the Bugs it will stink odiously: they call them Chinches or Wood-lice, they are fat, red and in shape like a Tike and no bigger. There are also Palmer-worms which is a kind of Catterpiller, these some years will devour the leaves of Trees leaving them as naked almost as in winter, they do much harm in the English Orchards. Of snails there are but few, and those very little ones, they lye at the Roots of long grass in moist places, and are no where else to be found, Spiders and Spinners there be many, the last very big and of several colours.

The Pismire or Ant must not be forgotten, accounted the least Creature, and by Salomnon commended for its wisdom, Prov. 30. 24, 25. Quatuor ista parva sunt humilia, tamen sunt sapientia, apprime sapientia: formicae populus infirmus, quae comparant aestate cibum fuum, &c.

There are two forts, red Ants and black Ants, both of them are many times found winged; not long fmce they were poured upon the Sands out of the clouds in a storm betwixt Black-point and Saco, where the passenger might have walkt up to the Ankles in them.

The Grashopper is innumerable and bigger by much than ours in England, having Tinsel-wings, with help whereof they will flye and skip a great way. Next to these in number are your Crickets, a man can walk no where in the fummer but he shall tread upon them; The Italian who hath them cryed up and down the streets {Grille che cantelo) and buyeth them to put into his Gardens, if he were in New-England would gladly be rid of them, they make such a dinn in an Evening. I could never discover the Organ of their voice, they have a little clift in their Crown which opens, and at the same instant they shake their wings.

The Eft or Swift in New-England is a most beautiful Creature to look upon, being larger than ours, and painted with glorious colours; but I lik'd him never the better for it.

Frogs too there are in ponds and upon dry land, they chirp like Birds in the spring, and latter end of summer croak like Toads. It is admirable to consider the generating of these Creatures, first they lay their gelly on the water in ponds and still waters, which comes in time to be full of black spots as broad as the head of a Ten-penny nail, and round, these separate themselves from the gleir, and after a while thrust out a tail, then their head comes forth, after their head springs out their fore-legs, and then their hinder-legs, then their tail drops off, and growes to have a head and four legs too, the first proves a frog, the latter a water nuet. The Herbalist useth to say by way of admiration, quaelibet herba deum &c. So God is seen in the production of these small Creatures which are a part of the Creation; Laudate Jehovam caelites, laudate eum in excelsis, &c. Laudent nomen Jehovae quae ipso praecipiente illico creata sunt &c. ipsae bestiae & omnes jumenta, reptilia & aves alatae, Psal. 148.

The Toad is of two sorts, one that is speckled with white, and another of a dark earthy colour; there is of them that will climb up into Trees and sit croaking there; but whether it be of a third sort, or one of the other, or both, I am not able to affirm; but this I can testifie that there be Toads of the dark coloured kind that are as big as a groat loaf Which report will not swell into the belief of my sceptique Sirs; nor that there is a Hell, being like Salomons fool, Prov. 26. 22. Sed si contunderes stultum in mortario cum mola pistillo, non recederet ab eo stultitia ejus.

Now before I proceed any further, I must (to prevent misconstructions) tell you that these following Creatures, though they be not properly accounted Serpents, yet they are venomous and pestilent Creatures. As, first the Rat, but he hath been brought in since the English came thither, but the Mouse is a Native, of which there are several kinds not material to be described; the Bat or flitter mouse is bigger abundance than any in England and swarm, which brings me to the insects or cut-wasted Creatures again, as first the honey-Bee, which are carried over by the English and thrive there exceedingly, in time they may be produced from Bullocks when the wild Beasts are destroyed. But the wasp is common, and they have a sort of wild humble-Bee that breed in little holes in the earth. Near upon twenty years since there lived an old planter at Black-point, who on a Sunshine day about one of the clock lying upon a green bank not far from his house, charged his Son, a lad of 12 years of age to awaken him when he had slept two hours, the old man falls asleep and lying upon his back gaped with his mouth wide enough for a Hawke to shit into it; after a little while the lad sitting by spied a humble-Bee creeping out of his Fathers mouth, which taking wing flew quite out of fight, the hour as the lad ghest being come to awaken his Father he jogg'd him and called aloud Father, Father, it is two a clock, but all would not rouse him, at last he sees the humble-Bee returning, who lighted upon the sleepers lip and walked down as the lad conceived into his belly, and presently he awaked.

The Countrey is strangely incommodated with flyes, which the English call Musketaes, they are like our gnats, they will sting so fiercely in summer as to make the faces of the English swell'd and scabby, as if the small pox for the first year. Likewise there is a small black fly no bigger than a flea, so numerous up in the Countrey, that a man cannot draw his breath, but he will suck of them in: they continue about Thirty dayes say some, but I say three moneths, and are not only a pesterment but a plague to the Countrey. There is another sort of fly called a Gurnipper that are like our horse-flyes, and will bite desperately, making the bloud to spurt out in great quantity; these trouble our English Cattle very much, raising swellings as big as an egg in their hides. The Butterfly is of several sorts and larger than ours; So are their Dragon-flyes. Glow-worms have here wings, there are multitudes of them insomuch that in the dark evening when I first went into the Countrey I thought the whole Heavens had been on fire, seeing so many sparkles flying in the air: about Mount-Carmel, and the valley of Acree in the Holy-land there be abundance of them.

These are taken for Cantharides. Cantharides are green flyes by day, in the night they pass about like a flying Glow-worm with fire in their tails.

I have finished now my relation of plants, &c. I have taken some pains in recollecting of them to memory, and setting of them down for their benefit from whom I may expect thanks; but I believe my reward will be according to Ben Johnsons proverbs, Whistle to a Jade and he will pay you with a fart. Claw a churl by the britch and he will shit in your fist.

The people that inhabited this Countrey are judged to be of the Tartars called Samonids that border upon Moscovia, and are divided into Tribes; those to the East and North-east are called Churchers and Tarentines, and Monhegans. To the South are the Pequets and Narragansets. Westward Connecticuts and Mowhacks. To the Northward Aberginians which consist of Mattachusets, Wippanaps and Tarrentines. The Pocanokets live to the Westward of Plimouth. Not long before the English came into the Countrey, happened a great mortality amongst them, especially where the English afterwards planted, the East; and Northern parts were sore smitten with the Contagion; first by the plague, afterwards when the English came by the small pox, the three Kingdoms or Sagamorships of the Mattachusets were very populous, having under them seven Dukedoms or petti-Sagamorships, but by the plague were brought from 30000 to 300. There are not many now to the Eastward, the Pequots were destroyed by the English: the Mowhacks are about five hundred: Their speech a dialect of the Tartar's, (as also is the Turkish tongue) There is difference between Tongues and Languages, the division of speech at Babel is most properly called Languages, the rest Tongues.

Source: Overview by Bryan Wright

Related Links:

John Josselyn

Comments (0)Don't be shy, tell us what you think!   
Colonial Sense is an advocate for global consumer privacy rights, protection and security.
All material on this website © copyright 2009-19 by Colonial Sense, except where otherwise indicated.
ref:T4-S15-P411-C253-M4